Tell us a little bit about yourself and your craft.
My name is Ellen Bruxvoort, and I make fiber jewelry and woven home goods in Austin, TX under the name of FIBROUS. I started in 2014 and have been a one woman shop since then. I also teach a free online course on weaving a necklace and sell wooden tools and weaving kits on Etsy in addition to my personal work.
What was your AHA moment?
I’ve been a busy body since I can remember but I especially enjoy working with fibers because I’m a pretty tactile person. When I started weaving, I was making pieces that were strictly “art,” but I felt a real tug (which is, I guess, the AHA) when I started to make things that were not just art, but functional art.
Where do you draw energy and inspiration for your work?
The entire namesake of my business is about interconnectedness and how essential it is to the human experience. The actual name, FIBROUS, is inspired by the South African philosophy of Ubuntu which translates in English as “I am because we are” or “I am because of you.” All this to say, I’m largely inspired by other people. The way they walk and think and feel and express themselves. Everybody knows something that you don’t and they might see a body of work in a way that I never have. That makes the possibilities seem endless, which is totally inspiring and life-giving.
What’s one of your favorite moments of the creative process?
Some of my favorite pieces were born in times when I was completely inundated with emotion. Like I’d be sitting at my desk literally sobbing or filled with anger or so happy that I was dancing in my chair. Weaving has, in its own way, become a means to articulate myself, almost like a language only I can read. Each piece tells a story and I feel like some of my best art emerges in times when I am my most vulnerable and raw self. Someone else may never know that I was in that state by looking at the final piece, but the feeling is woven in and I guess that’s my favorite part.
As small business owners, I think it’s safe to say we learn as we go! What’s something you’ve learned from operating your business that you wish you could have told yourself when you started?
Make stuff and give it away. Journal and sketch as much as possible. Keep showing up. You don’t have to be “on” everyday. Put yourself out there. Be consistent. Take risks. Don’t spend money you don’t have
What roadblocks have you hit and overcome as a small business owner?
The ebbs and flows are real and when the lows hit sometimes it’s hard to know how to pick back up. But my mantra in those times is always “keep showing up.” Even if it’s just to tidy the space or re-organize or sit and doodle for a few minutes out of the day. The flow will return eventually, but it’s my responsibility to keep showing up until it does.
What are your go-to podcasts, books or blogs?
It’s been around for a while, but the Have Company podcast by Marlee Grace is like the book you read and re-read and read again and still keep learning new things.
What is your favorite thing about the handmade community?
I love the fire that people get in their eyes when they talk about their craft. It’s the way you can tell that someone is passionate about their art even if it’s all a work in progress. I feel like so much of the handmade community is on this wavelength of understanding each other- the hustle and the hard work it takes, but also the eagerness to support and uplift each other. It takes confidence to be able to put yourself out there and learn as you go and I respect everyone in the community who is willing to take up that challenge.
What do you have planned for your business in the months to come? Any new projects, collabs, collections you can hint at?
I have a weird project in mind that I want to get out into the world by March of 2018. It’s nothing like I’ve ever done before and totally inspired by the combination of a documentary called, “Yarn” and a book I used to have called “We Feel Fine.” It blurs the boundaries of pixels and presence, of fiber art and human experience. I think it will be cool, but it’s still incubating, so stay tuned!
Tell us about a small victory! The little things are so worthy of celebration! (Anything that made you do your happy dance.)
I was hanging out with my family the other day and happened to be wearing a woven necklace prototype that I was testing out. As we were all sitting around the breakfast table, my 4 year old nephew out of the clear blue sky interrupted the entire table conversation to tell me that he thought my outfit looked really nice with my necklace. I think small victories are everywhere, but for some reason, that one ~melted~ me.